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Making An Interdisciplinary Impact As A Political Scientist

Eleven Questions for Prof. Dr. Eric Linhart, who has held the Professorship of Political Systems since December 2015

Prof. Dr. Eric Linhart (40) has held the Professorship of Political Systems since December 2015. In eleven answers, he gives “University News” readers a glimpse into his background, his goals and his time in Chemnitz.

What does it mean to specialize in political systems?

A political system includes all political institutions, actors and processes as well as concrete policies. The interaction of these elements is central. As a general rule, we study political systems of individual countries like the Federal Republic of Germany, but they are not limited to the national level. For example, the European Union or the Free State of Saxony have their own political systems.

The TU Chemnitz is the right choice for me as a professor, because ...

... it offers a pleasant working environment with friendly colleagues and motivated students.

Can you tell us a bit about your academic career so far?

I studied Political Science and Mathematics at the University of Mannheim and finished with the 1st State Examination. Later, I completed my doctorate in Mannheim in Political Science. My next stop was the University of Kiel, where I worked as a Junior Professor of Applied Political Economy and completed my habilitation. In the meantime, I was a stand-in professor in Göttingen and a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Delmenhorst. Before coming to Chemnitz, I taught for a semester at Heidelberg University.

Describe your years of study in only a few words.

It is the time in your life when you can enjoy the greatest freedoms.

Did you have role models during your studies who encouraged you to pursue a scientific career?

My doctoral supervisor, Franz Urban Pappi, is certainly among them, for whom I worked as a student assistant during my studies.

Do you have any advice for young students and graduates?

Study only subjects you are really deeply interested in, not just subjects you believe will help advance your career or that you think will involve the minimum amount of effort! If you study something that doesn’t interest you, it will be miserable.

What would you like to achieve in your teachings in the future?

I think it is very important that I inspire students to take interest in the subject of political science and to show them how exciting research can be. I will surely not always succeed with every student, but this guides my teaching.

What impact does your research have at the TU Chemnitz?

The TU is already very well-established in fields such as mechanical engineering, information technology, natural sciences and the like. At first glance, these areas have little to do with political science. But if you look again, you will see that innovations in these fields also need to find political and social acceptance in order to become more than purely academic projects. As a political scientist, I can contribute to this process and make an interdisciplinary impact.

There are around 45,000 professors at German universities. What distinguishes you from all others?

I think there isn’t so much that makes me unique. I make an effort to connect teaching and research with one another and also do a good job in both spheres. This goal is one that I share with the majority of my colleagues. It doesn’t set me apart.

What is your favorite place to show guests in Chemnitz?

I have only lived in Chemnitz for a short time and I am still looking forward to exploring the city and surrounding areas. But I already like the Chemnitz market square and I am excited for the atmosphere during the Christmas season.

How do you play a part in the life of the city?

It is important to be active outside of the university as well, in order to just simply experience other surroundings – for example in athletic or musical societies. It takes a lot of volunteer work, as I know from my time spent in Mannheim and Kiel. I can’t say for sure yet how I will get involved in Chemnitz.

More information about the Professorship: https://www.tu-chemnitz.de/phil/politik/pspi/professur/professur.php

Mario Steinebach
23.06.2016

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